In 2015, Lamarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Arron Afflalo, Wesley Matthews, and Robin Lopez all left the Portland Trail Blazers who were continuously not good enough to keep up with the top teams in the West. Damian Lillard was the only man left who averaged over nine points per game, and the Blazers had no expectations.
Luckily, the Trail Blazers became the breakout team of the season, as C.J. McCollum, Allen Crabbe, and Al-Farouq Aminu all doubled their point outputs from the previous season. The runner-up coach of the year, Terry Stotts lead the Blazers to a fifth seed in the Western Conference, where they upset the Los Angeles Clippers in a six-game first round series.
After having one of the most surprising seasons ever with one of the cheapest rosters, the Blazers were ready to cash out in free agency; and that they did. Following the free agency period, the Blazers were paying a combined 38 million dollars per year to three overpaid role players: Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, and Evan Turner.
Despite experiencing relative success with the new squad, it may not have been worth it, especially after getting swept in the first round by the Pelicans (read more about the sweep at https://916kingscourt.com/2018/04/22/trail-blazers-swept-by-the-pelicans-can-they-continue-the-dominance/).
The Blazers don’t have a way to get better. With 80 million dollars locked up by three roleplayers over the next two seasons, they obviously don’t have any salary room to acquire a significant free agent. If they wanted to risk it all and package the overpaid players with picks to create room, it could all blow up in their face if they aren’t in the playoffs.
Rumors are swirling around a potential C.J. McCollum trade, but you won’t get similar value in return. The same goes for Damian Lillard. With Zach Collins as the only promising young player on their roster, they don’t have a future without Dame and C.J.
Essentially, the Blazers have two options:
- Go into next season with the exact same roster, and hope the extra year makes a noticeable difference.
- Go into next season with the exact same roster, but fire who would’ve at one time been considered a top-5 coach in the NBA.
Now, you should see the problem. The Blazers can’t improve their roster till after the contracts of Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, and Maurice Harkless run out. It’s a waiting game in Portland; hopefully, they have enough (Dame) time.